October 16, 2020
With 279 deaths in one day, on October 14, Iran broke its record of daily coronavirus fatalities for the third time in a week.
Following a spike in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths over the last week, President Rouhani’s administration ordered lockdowns in five metropolitan areas: Tehran, Isfahan, Urmia, Karaj and Mashhad. With the tight restrictions, the government aims to restrict travel during the forthcoming three-day holiday in Iran.
Confirming the news, Kianoush Jahanpour, director of the health ministry’s public relations, said: “the health ministry proposed to the National Coronavirus Taskforce that travel should be restricted to and from five cities where coronavirus infections are rather high.” Jahanpour emphasized that the restrictions did not apply to movement within the cities. The quarantine started at midnight on October 14 and will last until noon on Sunday, October 18.
Most people traveling from Tehran during the holidays, which mark the death of the Prophet Muhammad and the martyrdom of Imam Hassan, visit the scenic northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran. Members of parliament from Mazandaran appealed to President Rouhani, asking him in a joint letter to close the roads that connect Tehran to the province during the holidays, according to Mohammad Ali Mohseni Bandpey, a member of the parliament’s Health Committee. The government has yet to respond to the request, and given that the holiday begins on October 15, it is unlikely that the MPs’ wish will be granted. However, the ministry of roads said the main thoroughfare of Chalus between Karaj near Tehran and Mazandaran was due to be closed for repairs and improvements from October 14 until 7am on October 18.
On October 11, it became mandatory for people to wear masks in Tehran province, at least for two weeks, and people violating the rules will face fines. Why are the fines only imposed in Tehran and why is this only for two weeks? Members of the public and the media asked Jahanpour. “This is absolutely not true,” Jahanpour said. There is no time limit, he insisted, and then added: “After studying various aspects following Tehran’s experience, it will be carried out across the country.”
Dr. Minoo Moharez, a member of the National Coronavirus Taskforce’s Scientific Committee, said the epidemic is now many times worse than it was during the first wave in March and April. “The hospitals have no spaces left, patients are standing in line to be admitted to hospitals and the number of patients in critical condition, as well as the number of elderly patients, have grown enormously,” she said.
Dr. Moharez also acknowledged the new phenomenon of entire families becoming infected with coronavirus. “We are seeing a lot of families who have been infected together. This shows that family members are in close physical contact with each other. Of course, the reopening of schools and universities and traveling have done their part [to push the number of infections up] as well.”